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Film producer looks at leadership through a fresh lens

Cambridge Judge Business School

Jennifer Jonas is familiar with the University of Cambridge, having completed an MPhil in comparative literature at St John’s College in 1985. She started working in the film industry prior to completing her MPhil and went on to produce her first feature film in 1998. With 14 feature films under her belt and a successful production company based in Canada, Jennifer had established herself as a well-respected and experienced leader in the industry.

Jennifer comments: “The film industry was going through a significant period of change, and challenge. I was concerned about how I was going to steer my production company through these changes when I heard about the Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP) through my alumni contacts.”

The film industry, like many others, was undergoing a transformation owing to a growing digital and online market. The traditional film industry market was moving away from cinema distribution and DVDs to make way for online disruptors like Netflix.

Jennifer adds “It was a good time for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I knew that other businesses were facing a similar level of pressure and I wanted to get some professional guidance that would help me navigate these challenges and evolve as a leader.”

Jennifer attended the ALP with a fellow group of business leaders and entrepreneurs and gained insights that have since helped her to develop and lead her business.

Jennifer comments: “I greatly benefitted from taking time out from the day to day pressures of the business. We spent time looking at the market forces of globalisation and reflecting on how these big issues might impact on our own industries. I gained a great deal of perspective from the teaching and the experiences shared between my fellow attendees.

“Running an independent film production company is a challenge when you consider the competition from the big, Hollywood studios. There are David and Goliath dynamics to deal with so we have to be smart and try to keep ahead with our ideas and tactics.”

Jennifer has remained in touch with her fellow attendees, something that she feels is a crucial element of the attending a programme such as the ALP.

Jennifer concludes: “The advice I received and the companionship gained during the programme has helped see me through a challenging period for the business. I am more confident in my ability to deal with challenges and appreciate having a supportive network that I can tap in to when I need a sounding board.”